Pope says fail­ure of cli­mate sum­mit would be cat­a­strophic

Nairobi Law Monthly - - Briefing -

Pope Fran­cis called on world lead­ers last month to agree to a his­toric agree­ment to fight cli­mate change and poverty at a Paris meet, fac­ing the stark choice to ei­ther "im­prove or de­stroy the en­vi­ron­ment.

Fran­cis chose his first visit to the world's poor­est con­ti­nent to is­sue a clar­ion call for the suc­cess of the two-week sum­mit, known as COP21, that started on Novem­ber 28 in the French cap­i­tal still reel­ing from the Novem­ber 13 at­tacks by Is­lamic State mil­i­tants that killed 130 peo­ple.

In a long ad­dress in Span­ish at the United Na­tions re­gional of­fice, Fran­cis said it would be "cat­a­strophic" if par­tic­u­lar in­ter­ests pre­vailed over the com­mon good of peo­ple and the planet or if the con­fer­ence were ma­nip­u­lated by busi­ness in­ter­ests.

In Kenya, at the start of his three­na­tion Africa trip, the pope also said di­a­logue be­tween re­li­gions was es­sen­tial to teach young peo­ple that vi­o­lence in God's name was un­jus­ti­fied.

Bridg­ing the Mus­lim- Chris­tian di­vide and cli­mate is­sues are ma­jor themes of the trip that also took him to Uganda, which like Kenya has been vic­tim of Is­lamist at­tacks, and the Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic, a na­tion riven by sec­tar­ian con­flict.

"We are con­fronted with a choice which can­not be ig­nored: ei­ther to im­prove or de­stroy the en­vi­ron­ment," the pope said in Nairobi, home to the United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme head­quar­ters.

He noted that some sci­en­tists con­sider pro­tec­tion of the Congo basin trop­i­cal for­est, which spreads over six coun­tries and is the world's se­cond-largest af­ter the Ama­zon, es­sen­tial for the fu­ture of the planet be­cause of its bio­di­ver­sity. Fran­cis, who took his name from St. Fran­cis of As­sisi, the pa­tron saint of na­ture, has made pro­tect­ing "God's cre­ation" a plank of his pon­tif­i­cate. In June, he is­sued a land­mark en­cycli­cal call­ing for ur­gent ac­tion to save the planet.

In his ad­dress at the UN com­pound in Nairobi, he called for ac­tion against poach­ing and il­le­gal min­eral ex­ploita­tion in Africa and called for "a new en­ergy sys­tem" re­duc­ing fos­sil fu­els to the min­i­mum and a re-think "of the cur­rent model of de­vel­op­ment".

He said the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity had to lis­ten to the "cry ris­ing up from hu­man­ity and the earth it­self."^ (Reuters)

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